Planning policy and practice is ultimately about serving the public good, and should therefore ensure the needs of both current and future generations. With that intention, the needs of children must be central in plan and decision-making. Yet, a quick examination of national planning policies reveals children are currently most visible through their absence. Nevertheless, children are afforded rights, ratified by the UK, which are relevant for planning policy and can act as an organising factor to address deficiencies.
This report is a careful analysis of how children’s rights are presented within the national planning policies and supporting guidance of each UK nation. It looks specifically at three key human rights as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These are the right to participate in decision-making (Article 12); to gather in public space (Article 15); and to play, rest leisure, and access cultural life (Article 31).
We refer to the applications of these rights as the ‘child-friendliness’ of planning policy. We believe that every UK nation should be aiming for a child friendly approach in order to meet children’s needs and rights and give nine recommendations on how to do so.
Our findings suggest that a clear application of children’s rights and an emphasis on well- being and future generations, currently most strong in Wales, offer the best support for national child friendly planning policy. In addition, the Welsh Play Sufficiency Duty can provide a complementary tool, and recent planning reforms in Scotland are increasingly aligning with the child-friendly agenda. Guidance in Northern Ireland provides further hope, but there is room in all four nations to consider children more centrally. Each country has the opportunity to collaborate and learn from the others, drawing as well on good practice at a regional and local level, to improve the outcomes for children across the UK